Red tide cleanup efforts on Sanibel continue into second week

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Crews bulldoze piles of dead fish washed up from red tide on Sanibel Tuesday. Photo: WINK News.

After hiring a contractor, CrowderGulf, to clean up beaches littered with dead fish, Lee County and the City of Sanibel continue to bulldoze and pick up sea life washing ashore.

Crews began clearing the beaches of fish kill just over a week ago and are working two shifts per day to get rid of the mess.

Tuesday morning, Southwest Florida leaders voted unanimously to expand two local states of emergency which was declared to make funds available.

Municipalities will pay for red tide clean up and will be reimbursed through Lee County’s emergency reserves.

MORE: Lee County contractor to begin red tide cleanup

While of the hardest-hit areas including Lighthouse Beach look better, the bay side still needs a lot of work.

Tourism is suffering and commissioners say hotels on the island are 80 percent vacant.

“I compare it to having a hole in your roof and be given towels and buckets we appreciate it but the same time fix the roof,” said Chris Davidson who is the general manager of the Island Inn.

Many businesses aren’t seeing much traffic, and they say red tide is to blame.

“When I drive over the causeway or drive around town kind of gives me flashbacks to right after hurricane Irma because there was nobody here,” said Davidson.

Richard Johnson who co-owns Bailey’s General Store agrees.

“This is going to impact season after season after season until we get the problem that’s generating this crisis under control,” said Johnson.

“Many employees that we have this year say they haven’t seen a red tide as severe as this in recent history and we’re going to continue that process as the entire fish kill and red tide continue,” said Keith Williams who works for the Public Works Department.

The City of Sanibel says it will continue sending boats to the bay side which is harder to reach.

You can read updates from Sanibel fish kill removal efforts here. 

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